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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! undervalued masterpiece from an undervalued author
Isherwood's writing had as many ups and downs as a rollercoaster, which he would have been the first to admit, but this is (I think) the rose amongst the thorns that were his 'middle' books - a sensitive, heart warming and tender depiction of the life of a middle aged, gay male in mid-century America. This was the first of his books I read, and lead me to read all the...
Published on 7 Nov 2001 by c westwood

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well...
Poor George... intellectually privileged, a homosexual in times of changes. The book isn't exactly gripping, but nevertheless, quite interesting. Sharp words and dialogues with depth, show an unhappy man looking to relive the best parts of his live.
Published 19 months ago by Stefan Medeiros


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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! undervalued masterpiece from an undervalued author, 7 Nov 2001
This review is from: A Single Man (Paperback)
Isherwood's writing had as many ups and downs as a rollercoaster, which he would have been the first to admit, but this is (I think) the rose amongst the thorns that were his 'middle' books - a sensitive, heart warming and tender depiction of the life of a middle aged, gay male in mid-century America. This was the first of his books I read, and lead me to read all the others.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a perfect novel, really, 25 Jun 2013
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
A Single Man gives as much pleasure as you can get from a novel, I think, as the central figure is engaging - but not too 'nice' to be convincing - and the writing is unfailingly communicative as can only suggest quite a lot of common ground between George and Isherwood himself, even if we know Isherwood didn't lose his lover. The happy gay relationship - again not over-idealised - is here a thing of the past after a fatal accident, and the question the book poses is, how does one find meaning in life in middle-age in these circumstances? The book takes the form of different episodes in his day which have a much more mixed flavour than the Tom Ford film - and there are more of them. He visits a woman dying in hospital, for instance, and goes to a gay-friendly gym. He is also a good ten years older than Colin Firth who played him in the film - Firth was excellent, but the character is again brought closer to an ideal, as is his friend Charlotte. You might say the film is a kind of fantasy where the book is rooted very much in real life, even if the events follow a similar outline, with the marvellous swim in the night sea, drunk, with his student Kenny, followed by a rather less glossed continuation at his house. Another major difference is that there is no mention of suicide in the book - a facet of the film that weakened it somewhat, perhaps tapping into the mood of The Hours ... Where the novel really comes into its own is in the sense of being buoyed up by Isherwood's amazing narrative voice. The opening and close of the book are among the best I have ever read - the latter has a perfectly pitched ambiguity that I couldn't give away, but it taps into the same feeling as the opening and brings full circle a narrative thread that carries infinite humanity on the long fragile line that is any work of prose, even one as great as this, and as succinct at just over 150 pages.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MESMERIZING AND MEANINGFUL - AUDIO REVIEW, 29 Dec 2009
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Single Man (Audio CD)
If you have not read Christopher Isherwood you have missed the work of a brilliant author. This particular book was praised by the NY Times as "...a sad, sly report on the predicament of the human animal." Isherwood's prose is spare, mesmerizing; his words well chosen, succinct, meaningful. Most importantly, his writings are true.

When first published about a half century ago A SINGLE MAN was considered shocking as it portrayed for the first time the life of a gay man, George, who was recently bereaved and trying to adjust to life without his partner. George is a college professor, careful, thoughtful. The all too brief story covers just 24 hours from the moment he awakens in the morning and remembers that he has lost his partner to his studied, sometimes painful navigation of the day.

We are privy not only to his actions but to his thoughts, thus we share his predicament, a very human one. George is an Englishman living in southern California, a place a bit inhospitable to a middle-aged scholar yet he perseveres by observing routine. Haven't many of us found ourselves left with that as our one means of coping? For this reader/listener that is the beauty of Isherwood as A SINGLE MAN is not solely a drama of gay life but of all humanity.

Reader Simon Prebble gives voice to George with understanding, and skillful narration. British born his voice is perfectly suited for this role.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hugely successful movie version of A SINGLE MAN by Tom Ford - don't miss this. And hearty recommendations also for Isherwood's Christopher and His Kind and Prater Violet also found on audio from HighBridge.

- Gail Cooke
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christopher Isherwood - A Single Man, 9 Mar 2010
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
meditative, moving, thoughtful, poignant. A short, powerful novel; a gentle rumination on death and life, alienation and the small pleasures you can get from simply living, even when tragedy strikes. I wasn't expecting something quite like this, after The Berlin Novels, as this is very different in tone, much more elegaic. If anything, as good as Goodbye to Berlin is, this is even more accomplishedly written, and is certainly more beautiful, in a restrained, reserved way. Highly recommended. (I haven't seen the film, I'm not a film fan, but after reading this I just might.)
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential, 7 Aug 2008
By 
Erastes (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Single Man (Paperback)
When I told a friend about this book, I said "it's very well written" and she said "Well, der! Isherwood!" and I laughed. But then I've only read Goodbye to Berlin and I was very young then, and didn't know good from bad.

It's possibly one of the most perfect little books I've read, absorbing from the first page and written in such a way that it feels like first person but it's actually written in third, astoundingly clever to my eyes. You get as easily into George's head as if it were first person.

Set over 24 hours, it simply covers his thought processes as he moves through the day and you learn a lot about him and the world in which he lives. From the first section he touches your heart as - as anyone who has suffered bereavement will understand - he wakes up and remembers again that his lover is dead. But he's not pessimistic about his outlook - he doesn't like the way that conservatism is encroaching upon the once bohemian area where he lives - once where there was artists and poets and easy sexual values, families are moving in, with more straight-laced ideals, but in juxtaposition to this, he loves youth.

He teaches at the University and the scenes with the Gidget-era youth are rather sweet and truly give a window into a lost American world. He does watch the athletes for his own enjoyment which was a nice touch.

I loved his optimism, despite how much he missed Jim, and the way that he finds the light and the dark in his life. He interacts with many people throughout the day, he's not at all an isolated person, but I was left feeling that he was spinning on the spot, lonely despite all the people who know and care from him. Without the one intimate friend he needed.

And really - that's about it apart from(spoilers below) He's a truly likeable guy, and towards the end of the book he's feeling optimistic about life. He had a lovely drunken evening first with a neighbour and then with a student friend, skinny dipping and a lot of drink. It's difficult to tell whether anything happened, but I don't think it did. He goes to bed at the end of his 24 hours feeling that it was time that he moved on with his life and that he was ready to look for love again. What would have been far more realistic and upbeat would have been if Isherwood had left it there. It would have been lovely to think that's what George does next. But - whether for literary merit - or for the tradition that - in books of this period - all gay guys MUST die at the end - he doesn't. And it was the ending that spoiled it for me and made me want to throw the book across the room, and made it lose a five star ranking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well..., 13 Dec 2012
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Poor George... intellectually privileged, a homosexual in times of changes. The book isn't exactly gripping, but nevertheless, quite interesting. Sharp words and dialogues with depth, show an unhappy man looking to relive the best parts of his live.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of now, 21 Sep 2012
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What a beautiful book! One of the earliest unashamedly gay novels - no apologies, no neurosis - it is superbly written. An exercise in grief and redemption, of acceptance and having the courage to live in the present moment.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Singularily Marvellous Work, 19 Feb 2010
By 
Simon Savidge Reads "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
`A Single Man' is the tale of a day in the life of George. A British man teaching English and living in California who's life has changed through the complex emotions grief bestows upon someone since loosing his partner Jim. Though you are never quite told when the book is meant to be set I got a feel of the late 1950's, the book was written in the early 1960's a time when homosexuality really wasn't still accepted though there was a slight change in the air. We follow George through his day and in doing so learn how a man copes with the loss of a loved one, for he is technically a widower, when he cannot discuss it.

For such a short book it is brimming with ideas, emotions, and people. It's utterly remarkable. Through George's ordinary day as he gets up, gets ready, drives to work, works, visits a hospital, has a dinner with a friend and gets very drunk Isherwood crams different emotions behind all his actions. Sometimes bitter, inept, nostalgic, angry, sad, aroused, giddy - basically the whole gambit that grief with put you through and so far in my ready experience I have never read it better and though its not written in first person you can feel it all. We also get his back story, Jim's too and then we have the wonderful character of Charlotte a fairly close neighbour.

I could go on and on about this book but really what I should simply do is urge you to read it. It's a small book filled with subtlety and a such a deep and clever internal dialogue which says so much you feel you want to read it again and see what you missed.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant but flawed, 28 July 2008
By 
Erastes (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Single Man (Paperback)
When I told a friend about this book, I said "it's very well written" and she said "Well, der! Isherwood!" and I laughed. But then I've only read Goodbye to Berlin and I was very young then, and didn't know good from bad.

It's possibly one of the most perfect little books I've read, absorbing from the first page and written in such a way that it feels like first person but it's actually written in third, astoundingly clever to my eyes. You get as easily into George's head as if it were first person.

Set over 24 hours, it simply covers his thought processes as he moves through the day and you learn a lot about him and the world in which he lives. From the first section he touches your heart as - as anyone who has suffered bereavement will understand - he wakes up and remembers again that his lover is dead. But he's not pessimistic about his outlook - he doesn't like the way that conservatism is encroaching upon the once bohemian area where he lives - once where there was artists and poets and easy sexual values, families are moving in, with more straight-laced ideals, but in juxtoposition to this, he loves youth.

He teaches at the University and the scenes with the Gidget-era youth are rather sweet and truly give a window into a lost American world. He does watch the athletes for his own enjoyment which was a nice touch.

I loved his optimism, despite how much he missed Jim, and the way that he finds the light and the dark in his life. He interacts with many people throughout the day, he's not at all an isolated person, but I was left feeling that he was spinning on the spot, lonely despite all the people who know and care from him. Without the one intimate friend he needed.

And really - that's about it apart from(spoilers below) He's a truly likeable guy, and towards the end of the book he's feeling optimistic about life. He had a lovely drunken evening first with a neighbour and then with a student friend, skinny dipping and a lot of drink. It's difficult to tell whether anything happened, but I don't think it did. He goes to bed at the end of his 24 hours feeling that it was time that he moved on with his life and that he was ready to look for love again. What would have been far more realistic and upbeat would have been if Isherwood had left it there. It would have been lovely to think that's what George does next. But - whether for literary merit - or for the tradition that - in books of this period - all gay guys MUST die at the end - he doesn't. And it was the ending that spoiled it for me and made me want to throw the book across the room, and made it lose a five star ranking.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 15 Nov 2007
This review is from: Single Man (Paperback)
This is Isherwood's finest piece of writing. Chanced upon it in a library, having heard about his Berlin novels and decided to give "Single Man" a go.

Isherwood's brilliance is his attention to detail, bringing to the reader's attention the world with an almost visceral quality, whilst retaining a resounding subtlety that makes this book really stand out. It is truly outstanding and a book for those who know about books.

Easily read in one sitting it is a book you can return to every now and again without feeling like you could be doing something better with your time.

The story revolves around an old man, lecturer at an LA university and a stranger to his neighbours. The people he meets during his routine are cause for much of the story's development, addressing key themes in the process.

This is my favourite book. It is well worth a read. If at all interested in North American literature (J.D. Salinger, Sylvia Plath, Douglas Coupland to name a few) and its concern with lonliness and the search for meaning and identity then this will be a book for you.
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A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (Audio CD - 22 Dec 2009)
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